THE first pictures of Nelson born actor John Simm in the new BBC drama The Village have been released.

The former Life on Mars star stars alongside Bolton actress Maxine Peake in the drama, which was filmed in the Peak District.

The Village charts the life and times of an English village across the whole of the 20th century, and is written by Bafta-winning writer Peter Moffat.

Simm, who was a pupil at Edge End High School, plays the dad of a village resident called Bert Middleton.

He said: “I’m delighted to be working with such a great director (Antonia Bird) and brilliant writer in Peter — I’ve long been a fan of both, alongside such a great cast.”

The series begins in 1914 with Bert Middleton growing up in extreme poverty on a family farm in Derbyshire. His parents John (John Simm) and Grace (Maxine Peake) struggle to provide for Bert and his older brother Joe.

The cameras never leave the village and changes to life in the 20th century are told through the eyes of its residents.

Maxine Peake said: “Beautiful writing — a period piece when we’re not focusing on the decision makers but the working people, it is so great to see the other side — changes within a chain of social and political life, in minutiae.

“My character, Grace channels all her energy into her family with a focus on ambition and the idea of freedom for her sons. Women moving into the workplace as the men went to fight and finding independence.”

The Village will be broadcast on BBC One later this year.

As well as Life on Mars, in which he played Sam Tyler, John Simm has also had starring roles in State of Play, a six-part drama written by Burnley-born Paul Abbott about a newspaper investigation into a woman’s death; thriller series Mad Dogs, and Exile, for which he received a BAFTA nomination for his portrayal of a son whose father (Jim Broadbent) was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.